Old Norse Language and Literature

Winter Term 2016/2017

Course Materials

wk slides
1Methods and Resources
2Sound Laws
4Weak Verbs
6Strong Verbs
7The Eddic Tradition
10Faith and Power
11The Sagas of Icelanders
12The Legendary Sagas
wk handouts
6Strong Verb Classes
10Exam Specifications
wk key concepts
1Orthography and Phonology
2Sound Laws
6Strong Verbs
7The Eddic Tradition
10Faith and Power
11The Sagas of Icelanders
12The Legendary Sagas


resource comments
What is case? A beginner's introduction.
Pronouns Side-by-side paradigms of Old English, Old Norse, and Modern English pronouns.
Adjectives A few rough notes to get you started on adjective declension.
Nouns Charts and paradigms like those found in textbooks, but now accompanied by user-friendly yet detailed explanations.
Weak verbs An explanation of the weak verb classes.
Strong verbs An index of patterns in strong conjugation and full paradigms for all seven classes.
paradigms.langeslag.org A verb paradigm showroom.
Functions of the cases A sketch of the various uses of the oblique cases, with examples.

Study Resources

resource comments
Flashcards Rollover flashcards for paradigms, vocabulary, phrases, and sentences.
Learning by formula: saga introductions Brief reading extracts to help students understand commonly used constructions.
Textbook errata A compilation of errors in textbooks from which I teach.

Grammars and Textbooks

On the merits of the various works as textbooks, see the discussion accompanying this blog post.

resource description formats
Barnes–Faulkes The most recent authoritative method, very user-friendly if a little frustrating for those of us seeking to teach historical principles. Plentiful use of example sentences. All three volumes (grammar, reader, and glossary) are freely downloadable from the publisher's website. pdf: grammar, reader, glossary
Gordon The classic primer and reader. The grammar section is more of a reference work than a textbook by today's standards, and the price-to-binding-quality ratio is preposterous. paperback
Krause–Slocum A detailed online grammar and reader, with an extensive sentence-by-sentence glossary. html
Noreen My grammar of choice, this detailed historical work provides a sound and critical historical insight into the phonology and morphology. In German. pdf
Guðlaugsson–Þorgeirsson A basic online course. html
Sweet–Hall A classic and concise textbook, recently updated by Alaric Hall. pdf
Valfells and Cathey A textbook teaching Old Norse as though it were a living language, with vocabulary and exercises. out of print
Wills A concise and accessible current digital textbook. pdf


resource description formats
Cleasby–Vígfússon The largest Norse–English dictionary html/png
Dictionary of Old Norse Prose, A–Em The most recent dictionary, as yet incomplete, into Danish and English. html, hardback
Fritzner The most extensive dictionary of Old Norse, but it translates into Bokmål and dates from the blackletter era! html, pdf1
Gering A Norse–German dictionary of eddic poetry. png, pdf
Heggstad An outstanding dictionary of Old Norse, in a current revision, but it translates into Nynorsk. hardback
Lexicon poeticum A Norse–Danish poetic dictionary. Its first edition is Norse–Neolatin. png, pdf
Zoëga A shorter Norse–English dictionary, based on Cleasby–Vígfússon. Available in affordable paperback. The List of Irregular Forms is very helpful when you haven’t yet memorized all the stem changes! html, paperback


resource description formats
Heimskringla Family sagas, legendary sagas, both Eddas, Heimskringla, and various poetry, mostly in medieval spelling. html
Netútgáfan Family sagas, legendary sagas, short stories (þættir), Heimskringla, Jómsvíkinga saga, Landnámabók, and Gylfaginning, all with Modern Icelandic spelling. html
Septentrionalia A variety of early scholarly editions. pdf
Viking Society publications Various scholarly editions, some very recent, available free of charge at the publisher's website. pdf

External Language Aids

resource comments
Old Icelandic morphological analysis A parser of inflected forms by Francis Tyers, using Sean Crist's form-lists, which are impressive yet contain many errors. Works for common verbs and nouns as well as a few adjectives. You'll have to ignore the html tags output by the parser. A version of Crist's data is also available as a single plaintext file here. If that comes out garbled, you'll have to set your browser or editor's text-encoding settings to UTF-8.
Old Norse Word Study Tool Hosted by Perseus, this parser is not without errors.
Verbix Old Norse verb paradigms A paradigm service for a very limited set of Old Norse verbs. Not without errors.
Modern Icelandic inflection tool The Beygingarlýsing íslensks nútímamáls gives you the full Modern Icelandic paradigm of pretty much any current word. If you check the box, you can also search for inflected forms. Remember that Old Norse inflection, though very similar, will differ somewhat. See also Alaric's guide to this Icelandic-only tool.
Icelandic Lemmatized Corpus Search The Ritmálsskrá of the Orðabók Háskólans lets you perform search queries for Modern Icelandic headwords and returns their inflected forms in sentence context in historical (but mostly Modern) literature. Just enter a lexical form, hit “Leita” and then “Sjá dæmi”.
Alaric Hall’s resources Alaric Hall’s teaching resources, including his Magic Sheet of Old Norse paradigms and video tutorials.
Icelandic Online Did you know that Icelandic has changed very little since the Middle Ages? Learn Modern Icelandic and you'll be able to read the sagas quite easily! This online multimedia course is a superb way of learning the language at your own pace, and free of charge.
Alaric Hall's Beginner's mp3 course in modern Icelandic Eight hours of audio learning, freely available in mp3 format.
Zoëga’s List of Irregular Forms In case you’d missed it under the Dictionaries heading, this resource is very helpful when you’re not sure how to bring an inflected verb or noun back to its lexical form.